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Spend Money on Experiences Instead of Shopping for Happiness

In “Mourning Toys R US? Think about this,” Kara Alaimo offers thoughts on why the end of this and similar retail stores may not be such a bad thing for consumers:

“It’s easy to get nostalgic about these stores and to feel their closings as a loss. It’s also worrisome to think that, instead of taking their kids to a store to play together, parents may order their toys online — or, even worse, hand over electronic devices so kids can do so on their own. But there’s a silver lining here: parents can use the time they would have spent shopping to do healthier activities with their families.

Teaching children that happiness comes from shopping was never the best lesson anyway.”

If you find that a lot of your personal or family time is spent looking for or buying things, you may want to examine why you spend so much time this way. It is not always easy to go out for a day and spend no money. You will not always want to pack and lunch and go to a park and that is okay. What may not be great for your budget or financial future is if you find that you shop often for entertainment and are not sure what to do if you are not shopping.

We’ve discussed spending money in ways that increase happiness and examined the book Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending. The book notes that research has found that purchasing objects has diminishing returns: you are happy with your purchase but feel less certain when you see something you think is better. When you pay for experiences like concerts or vacations you are left with memories that may make you happy. Even unpleasant experiences like a missed flight that delays your vacation leave you with a story to tell and you can bond with others over this shared experience.